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Winter is upon us, and while some of us may be tempted to escape to warmer, coastal areas, many of us want to appreciate the season in all of its beautiful glory.
Here is a list of top winter destinations from around the world that are absolutely breathtaking and deserve a visit.
1. Kyoto, Japan
The traditional Kyoto is a sight to behold during the cold winter days. The shrines and temples covered in snow make for an absolutely magical experience. The snow-covered roofs of homes and the frozen lakes convert Kyoto into a winter wonderland.
Kyoto is also home to numerous winter festivals that add to its charm. These include Toshiya, held mid-January and Setsubun, usually held at the start of February.
Perhaps the most magical of all winter festivals held in Kyoto is Hanatouro, or the festival of lights. During this festival, thousands of colored lanterns light up the Japanese night sky, making for an enchanting experience.
The plum trees that are usually in bloom towards the end of February and the hot springs that are scattered across the city are also things to look forward to during winter season in Kyoto.
2. Colmar, France
There isn’t just Paris in France! Situated strategically near both Germany and Switzerland, this fairytale-like French city has an old-school charm of its own and turns into a fairyland during winter.
Christmas in Colmar is something to look forward to for all those in search of an enchanting winter experience, especially for couples in a hunt for a romantic retreat.
The entire picturesque city comes to life during Christmas time, with Christmas markets taking over the land.
These markets are set up underneath ancient buildings, representing the rich culture and heritage of the town. The Christmas markets combined with the city’s charming old-town atmosphere are enough reason to visit Colmar during this winter season!
This makes Colmar one of the best places to visit in December!
3. New York City, USA
Despite freezing temperatures, winter is one of the best times to visit New York City.
For starters, travel fares are likely to be the lowest this time of year. If you are planning a budget-friendly vacation to NYC, anytime between January and March is ideal to book your ticket.
New York City is home to some of the grandest winter celebrations held anywhere in the world. The massive Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center and the Times Square ball are all winter-time attractions to look out for in the Big Apple.
NYC is also home to large-scale winter markets and is an absolute shopper’s paradise during the winter season. If you want to buy holiday presents for your loved ones, NYC is the place to be.
New York City has something for everyone. If you are looking to go on a winter date with your beloved, you can always head to the famous skating rink located at Central Park. With the massive Manhattan skyscrapers looming in the background, it makes for an absolutely magical experience.
Maybe that’s what makes NYC one of the Top 10 most visited cities in the world.
4. Abisko, Sweden
The Northern-European city of Abisko in Sweden is an ideal winter destination for those who are hard-core winter lovers.
In this Swedish city, the sun sometimes doesn’t rise for weeks at a stretch during winter! The winter darkness however perfectly complements the magnificent Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights aren’t the only reason to visit Abisko during the winter months, though. The city has a whole lot of other attractions and activities for tourists. These include ice fishing, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and even a majestic national park, home to reindeer!
Winter season in Antarctica stretches all the way from October to March. November is perhaps the most beautiful month to visit the freezing continent, especially if you are interested in landscape photography. This makes Antarctica one of the best places to visit in November.
The enchanting snow-caps and snow littered oceans and seas make for an enchanting sight. Mid October, penguins begin to return to their nests and whales begin to return to their feeding grounds and are certainly worth looking at. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a baby seal or two by the start of November.
These reasons alone warrant a visit or two to snowy Antarctica during the winter months. December onwards, summer arrives in Antarctica and the snow will begin to melt. You may even be able to catch glimpses of greater ocean wildlife once the frozen lakes start to melt!
6. Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
The German city of Frankfurt is an ideal place to visit during winter season because of its rich Christmas market tradition.
In fact, the city is home to the oldest Christmas market in the whole of Germany!
Frankfurt has a beautiful old-school charm to it. The old part of town is worth exploring via a historic tram. The range of cultural attractions, winter festivities, rich heritage, culture, and architecture that the city has to offer, all make Frankfurt a worthwhile city to explore, particularly during the snowy winter months.
7. Transylvania, Romania
This ancient city is characterized by quaint, Medieval-style towns including Biertan, Sighisoara, and Brasov.
The winter season converts count Dracula’s homeland into a picturesque winter wonderland.
With snow-smattered, barren landscapes, bare trees, grey skies, and the famous Bran Castle against this back-drop, the eerie, mysterious looking land is certainly a must-see during winter for those who love a good scary story.
It’s also a perfect winter destination if you’re into gothic architecture or simply love to explore historic towns.
8. Uludag, Turkey
The Uludag Mountain situated in Bursa, Turkey is becoming an increasingly popular during winter vacation destination in the region.
At an elevation of 2543 meters, the mountain offers visitors a range of winter sports to choose from. Visitors to the mountain can take a cable ride called Olympos Teleferik to get breathtaking panoramic views of the snowy landscape and the seashore.
The mountain is particularly a popular tourist spot for skiing. Mid-December is an ideal time to visit the Turkish mountain for winter sports related activities.
9. Tallinn, Estonia
Although the medieval city of Tallinn in Estonia, dating back all the way to the 13th century, is charming all through the year, the city is particularly enchanting during the winter.
The city has a rich culture and history and is in fact a UNESCO world heritage site. Christmas time in Tallinn is absolutely magical. The most popular Christmas market located in the town hall square in the old town is a place worth visiting at least once during your lifetime.
The massive Christmas tree, the colored lights on the tree, the hand knitted shawls, and the homemade doughnuts, all make for a warm, cozy winter, creating an undeniable old-school holiday environment like no other.
10. Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan
The Jigokudani Monkey Park in Japan offers tourists the unique ability to see wild snow monkeys also called Japanese Macaques that bathe in a hot spring. The monkey park is situated near the towns of Yudanaka and Shibu.
Although the Jigokudani Monkey Park is open for tourists throughout the year, the area is particularly beautiful in the snowy winter season. The ideal time for a visit to the park would be sometime between December and February.
11. Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany
The famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is one that was used as inspiration by Walt Disney for two of its famous children’s tales – Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
Originally built by the ‘mad’ king, Ludwig II, this grand, medieval-style, 19th century castle is quite a sight to behold in the snowy winter months.
Winter is the ideal time to visit this castle for both whimsical as well as practical reasons. Not only does the castle look far more enchanting when covered in snow, in winter you avoid running into too many other tourists and find more affordable accommodation options nearby.
12. Queenstown, New Zealand
Although the city of Queenstown in New Zealand is glorious throughout the year, it particularly stands out during the winter months.
Winter season in New Zealand starts sometime in May and continues all the way to September. So, if you’re looking for a winter vacation destination in the middle of the year, Queenstown is the place to be.
The Coronet Peak and the Remarkables Ski Area offer a range of winter activities for tourists including some of the best snowboarding and skiing in all of New Zealand. The Winter Festival of Queenstown held in June and July brings the whole town to life.
So if you are planning a trip to beautiful Queenstown, you may want to consider travelling in June or July so that you can catch the festival along with the amazing weather and scenic beauty.
13. Harbin, China
The city of Harbin in China is the coldest city in the Northern part of China. The best time to visit Harbin is during the winter season which starts in late December and goes on all the way into March.
Tourists from all over the world visit Harbin in winter because the city is home to the largest snow sculpture and ice festival in the world.
There are a range of other activities and sights to enjoy in Harbin. From skiing to exploring local cuisines, the town has much to offer. You may even get the chance to discover the infamous local tigers, if you’re lucky.